HERMITAGE — Two months after the Shenango Valley Shuttle Service began transportation to the Mercer County Courthouse and Mercer County Jail, the Mercer County Regional Council of Governments has increased the service.
It’s still a work in progress, but the Shenango Valley Shuttle Service is increasing its services to help get people to and from the Mercer County Courthouse — while giving releasees from the Mercer County Jail a trip into town.
Director of Operations Michael Nashtock of the MCRCOG said the Shenango Valley Shuttle Service’s courthouse-jail service can carry as many as 12 to 14 people per day for actions, such as call-of-the-list, at the courthouse. Pickups at the Mercer County Jail have also been steady since the program began.
“We’ve had about 10 people use the system so far, but we expect to get more,” he said.
MCRCOG operates both Mercer County Community Transit and the Shenango Valley Shuttle Service (SVSS). Nashtock gave a report on both services Wednesday at the panel’s monthly meeting.
While SVSS provides transportation throughout the Shenango Valley and follows fixed routes, MCCT provides a door-to-door service with charges based on the distance traveled.
The shuttle previously made two stops at the courthouse at 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., but has been increased to four stops during the day, Nashtock said.
“What we heard from the courthouse was there were people who needed a ride to the courthouse for something early in the morning, but then they didn’t necessarily need to be at the courthouse all day,” he said.
Trips to the Mercer County Jail are made on an as-needed basis, with jail officials calling in to tell SVSS how many, if any, people are being released in a day. Nashtock said the jail provide inmates with two tokens upon release — one token for the bus trip into the valley, and one token for a hearing or probation meeting.
County Commissioner Timothy McGonigle, the Mercer County government representative to MCRCOG, said that, while the program has been providing transportation back the Shenango Valley, some releasees still choose to make the long walk back into town.
“There are some people who get released and instead of waiting five minutes for the bus, they decide that they’d rather walk the two hours back into the Valley,” McGonigle said.
However, Nashtock said the program is still being developed and that MCRCOG will publicize the courthouse-jail shuttle soon.
“We’re still ironing out the schedules, but once we get all the stops set up we’ll start promoting that and it’ll be on COG’s website,” he said.